‘I’m up to the challenge’

New to the ways of Bollywood, Jacqueline Fernandez lets City Times in on how she’s dealing with her alleged link-up to co-star Riteish Deshmukh and acting in an unfamiliar language

By Davina Raisinghani (davina@khaleejtimes.com)

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Published: Sat 17 Apr 2010, 10:16 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 11:58 AM

A CASUAL AND chirpy “How’s it going?” followed by genuinely phrased regret on being unable to make it here for the city’s recently concluded Fashion Week kicks off our phone conversation with model-turned-actress Jacqueline Fernandez.

“Although we had Dubai planned as one of the stops to promote Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai, we got caught up with the city tours in India. I was very upset about that because I really wanted to go shopping out there,” the former Miss Sri Lanka informs us.

Exactly two films old as of last weekend, which is when her latest film opened in cinemas, Fernandez, 24, claims that her decision to take the Bollywood route seems to be panning out quite nicely.

Even her debut in last year’s abysmal fantasy flick, director Sujoy Ghosh’s box office dud Aladin, didn’t set her back by too much.

But, the actress of part Sri Lankan and part Malaysian descent notes, in terms of landing a role, her lack of fluency in Hindi can prove itself an occasional deterrent.

“On the sets it’s not really a problem. In fact, we have ladies from Hollywood who have played Spanish, Russian and French women,” defends Fernandez, who is currently taking classes to pick up the language.

“As an actress, it is my job to get into the skin of a character. And I’m up to the challenge – nationality and language should never be a barrier. But directors are a little hesitant when they come to know about the ‘language thing’ and I’m glad for those who have given me a chance.”

Filmmaker Milap Zaveri even went a step further by coaxing the actress to dub for herself in sci-fi romance Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai, in which she plays the role of Tara, an alien from Venus wandering on Earth in search of true love.

“It was horrible,” recalls Fernandez. “I didn’t think I’d be dubbing at all. I was told that I would be only after we finished shooting for the movie. See, generally I’m a speed-talker.”

We can definitely vouch for that, considering the sheer quantity of ground she managed to cover in a brief eight-minute chat.

“So on the sets, I rattled off all my lines in Hindi, more with the intention of getting my emotions right than worrying about the diction. But during dubbing, each word had to be pronounced spot on. It was the most un-fun part of working in the movie.”

However, the actress enthuses, working with Riteish Deshmukh a second time round in this film, was a great experience.

And therefore, in the typical, and rather predictable, norm of Bollywood’s signature grapevine, inevitable rumours of the two leads being ‘romantically involved’ have done the proverbial rounds, and returned, only to be calmly, but firmly, dismissed by both Fernandez and Deshmukh.

“It’s like a party working with him. He’s a fantastic actor. But Riteish is just a friend. We didn’t take the link-up seriously at all – it’s a petty one, which people will talk about one day and forget the next. But it’s been a good warm up on how to handle what’s in store.”

Next in line for the actress is Milap Zaveri’s film, currently an announced and untitled venture. Fernandez will also soon be seen making a guest appearance in Sajid Khan’s upcoming comedy Housefull.

“I am doing a song in the movie; I hope it’s one of the biggest hits of the year. I was quite happy to get in to the Nadiadwala camp. It was also a great opportunity to work with Arjun (Rampal), Akshay (Kumar) and Farah Khan, who choreographed it.”

Overall, Fernandez seems thrilled with the turn of events so far – two fantasy flicks that let her experiment with her creativity and humour, a Bollywood number that’s fast gaining popularity and a forthcoming Pepsi advert with Ranbir Kapoor.

“That’s what keeps it interesting – variety. When you have your sights set on the entertainment industry, which is as interconnected as it gets, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from. And I knew I could handle it from when I was little and on television,” declares the actress, confidence lacing her tone.

Just good friends

Though charmed by her Aladin and Jaane Kahan Se AayiHai co-star, Riteish Deshmukh, Jacqueline Fernandez denies that there’s anything more to them (read: they’re actually ‘just good friends’). “That’s the down side. When you’re promoting a movie together you’re seen out and about a lot. And unfortunately, that leads to us getting linked.”

Jacqueline’s style file

When quizzed on her personal sense of style, the actress replied with, “Cotton dresses.” A little confused, we probed further. Translated, that means Jacqueline’s style is comfort based; “I love to keep it simple. You takeaway from yourself if you overdo things in terms of jewellery or the outfits. I like making a unique statement.” The actress also claims that seasonal trends are not something she cares to keep up with.

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